Today (Friday, the 13th of March) is Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day was launched in 2012 by the Alliance for Excellent Education, and has been supported by other groups and corporate sponsors. The purpose is to showcase how technology can “improve student outcomes and support teachers.”

chalkandchairThere will be a number of events, including one in Washington D.C. that will be live-streamed. Individual schools, classes, and institutions that are participating with their own events are encouraged to register what they are doing here.

Digital learning is just one way to describe how technology is transforming education, and the progress is inevitable. If nothing else, education has to keep pace with society, and people are using digital tools for discovery, communication, and managing their lives. Of course there are problems. We’ve talked a lot about the growing awareness of student data privacy, but there are so many ways this comes into conflict with other goals that we probably will talk about it again.

This study takes a deep look at the results of implementing digital strategies in the classroom in five different school districts. On overview of the report describes the results as mixed, and suggests that we still need to better understand what conditions produce success.

Two major elements must be addressed before technology implementation can succeed:

Having enough infrastructure. Giving students laptops or tablets without adequate IT support and good policies for use and privacy is just begging for problems. Bandwidth and wireless connectivity can be critical and are easily overburdened when students and teachers use more and more devices.

Training of teachers in both the technology and in the pedagogical techniques makes a huge difference. Simply explaining how to physically use the devices is not enough. Teachers need guidance on how to integrate these digital tools into their classroom process.

We do think the future of education involves greater use of technology, as long as that technology serves the work of educators and teachers, and isn’t seen as a magic bullet that can replace everything.

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